Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Windows Vista Annoyances

I thought I would take a break from being gay and blog about something else that has been on my mind these days.

Warning: This blog post contains some techno-babble.

I went over to the dark side and installed Windows Vista on my home PC. I had upgraded my PC a few months ago with an Abit KN8 SLI motherboard, 2Gig of RAM, and an AMD dual core processor. However, given that the release of Vista was imminent, I decided to not purchase a Windows XP license. Instead, I opted to install Windows 2000 (for which I already owned a license which wouldn't' have been used otherwise).

My son was strongly encouraging me to install Linux - which was tempting. But, most of the applications I run are Windows-only, and I wasn't sure how well they would run under Linux using WINE (a Windows emulator).

My first big decision was to decide which edition of Vista I wanted (thank you Micro$oft for making this as complicated as possible). After doing some research, I determined that Vista Home Premium would meet my needs.

Overall, there are a lot of things I like about Windows Vista (especially coming from Windows 2000). But there is a growing list of things that really bug me. Maybe I'll blog about the stuff I like later (when I'm not feeling so annoyed). But, for now ...

My list of Windows Vista Annoyances
  • Lack of drivers
To be fair, this really is more of a problem with the manufacturers than with Micro$oft. But, I still think M$ could have done a better job of allowing older drivers to work in some sort of legacy compatibility mode (albeit, perhaps not as efficiently)

My motherboard has a built-in RAID controller, and I had two 300GB drives setup as a RAID 1 (mirror) array. When I first installed Vista and loaded the lastest nForce4 drivers, Vista was able to recognize my RAID drive, but could not read it. Fortunatley, I had backed everything up to an external harddrive. So, I decided to reformat my RAID drive and then copy all of the data. This worked - for a couple of days. Then something happened, I'm not exactly sure when. But, now it no longer recognizes my RAID array - instead, I see two separate drives. They each have the data that I copied from the external drive after I reformatted, but changes to one drive are not reflected on the other. Aaarrrggg!!! I guess I'll just have to live with this until Nvidia comes out with nForce4 drivers for Vista that actually work.

My motherboard has built-in sound. Unfortunately, under Vista, everytime a sound is played, the speakers pop. I've never been very impressed by the quality of the sound with this motherboard. So, I may purchase a dedicated sound card (one that has Vista drivers)

I have three printers attached to my Vista computer which are shared with all of the computers in our home - one of them being an older laser printer that requires a parallel port. My new motherboard doesn't have a built-in parallel port. So, I installed a PCI parallel port card. It worked great under Win2K. But, alas, I contacted the manufacturer and they said that they didn't have any Vista drivers for it (and the way they worded their response, didn't have any plans to write one). So, I guess I'll just have to purchase a USB parallel port (which I should have done in the first place).

I have a USB switch that one of my laser printers is connected to so that I can share the printer with both my home computer and my work laptop. I usually just print to it as a network shared printer. But, sometimes my home computer is turned off and it's easier to just switch the printer to my laptop rather than having to turn on my home computer and wait for it to boot. But, you guessed it - no Vista drivers. I haven't come up with a workaround for this one yet. I guess I'll just have to never turn off my Vista based computer
  • Sleeping turns into a coma
Something that Micro$oft touts about Vista is that you never have to logoff or shutdown your computer. You can just let it go to sleep. It will save it's state (memory, etc.) to the harddrive so that when you wake it up again, it will quickly bring you right back to where you were. This sounds great! Unfortunately, when I let my computer go to sleep - it went into a coma and wouldn't wake again. My motherboard has a couple of LED's that light up even when the computer is turned off (yes, I'm a nerd, I have a computer case with a clear panel so that I can see the insides). Even these lights were off which concerned me thinking that my motherboard was fried. I found that I had to physically disconnect the power from the computer for at least 30 seconds. I could then turn it on and it would wake up and return me right back to where I was. But, it didn't appear to me that restoring its previous state was really that much quicker than rebooting. Perhaps this is another problem with the buggy nForce4 motherboard drivers. For now, I've disabled sleep.
  • Windows Photo Gallery
This was the one feature in Vista that I was genuinely excited about. Supposedly, Micro$oft worked with professional photographers and camera manufacturers (Nikon, Canon, etc.) to come up with a tool to organize digital images. Being an amateur photographer, I have literally 1,000's of images. There are other tools for organizing images which I've researched. But, I haven't been satisfied with any of them. I wanted something that allowed me to use the Windows filesystem to organize my photos, but would allow me to tag the images to help me find the images I want. Windows Photo Gallery seemed like a match made in heaven, especially since I was able to load the Nikon codec which enables me to view my raw images directly within windows.

There are a few minor annoyances that I've come across
  • Some of the user interface actions aren't as intuitive as I think they should be
  • I can view thumbnails of my raw images, but occasionally I come across one that it says is corrupted. However, I can open the image just fine in my raw image editor.
  • When using tags to find images, there doesn't seem to be a way to search for an image using multiple tags (for example, "images that have tag1 and tag2" or "images that have tag1 but not tag2")
But, the biggest problem I'm having is that the image catalog is unique to the logged in user. If you log in as another user, you can no longer see the images in Photo Gallery (you can see them on the harddrive, but not within the Photo Gallery application). Supposedly, according to the online help, there is a way to share the image catalog with all users on the same computer - but I haven't been able to get it to work. I just want my wife to be able to see my image gallery when she is logged in using her userid. Is that really too much to ask?
BTW, everyone else was doing this, so I did it too

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